Quantum computers are coming, but there are still many problems with realizing practical machines. One is finding a reliable and affordable way to encode qubits — the basic unit for quantum computers. MIT researchers have a proposal. By using two slightly different colored lasers, they can manipulate nuclear spin. This isn’t the first time someone’s tried to use light to impact spin, but according to MIT, the other methods use an indirect coupling which is more prone to noise, something that limits the viability of quantum computers. They published a recent paper on the process if you want to read more.
Nuclear spin has weak interactions, but the new method doesn’t require intermediate steps, so it may be much more practical than previous methods. MIT mentions that typical quantum elements have coherence time limits, which means data stored in them becomes useless in less than a second. The new method promises to have coherence times measured in hours.
The method is known as the optonuclear quadrupolar effect or ONQ. From the paper:
[The ONQ effect] is second order in the electric field and nuclear spin I, as mediated by the quadrupole electric coupling, and is thus one of the nonlinear optical (NLO) responses of materials present in perfect crystals. Via the ONQ effect, nuclear spins can be coherently controlled by two-color photons, without electron spins as the media.
If you understood that, you should probably head over and read the rest of the paper. Meanwhile, the rest of us are waiting for our quantum Arduino.
The 80s and 90s were the glory days of the BBS. The plain old telephone system was responsible for bringing us connection to other digital beings, along with plenty of spuriously-obtained software and inappropriate ASCII art. [Francesco Sblendorio] has created BBS Builder to harken back to this great era, allowing people to build their own BBSs as they see fit!
BBS Builder consists of basic classes for construction a BBS that operates in PETSCII mode. If that’s unfamiliar to you, it’s the character encoding created by Commodore, also known as CBM ASCII. BBSs created through this software can be accessed by a variety of appropriately 80s machines. The Github page outlines how to create a basic BBS using the code that can be customized to your own liking.
[Francesco] notes the system is compatible with Commodore 64s running RR-NET compatible network cards, WiFi modem cards, and 1541Ultimate hardware using UltimateTerm. Various other methods are supported too, as well as PCs and Macs running Syncterm.
Running a BBS was like running your own website back in the day. With that said, they also had a distinct community flair that is somehow missing from today’s web. Be sure to sound off with your favorite BBS in the comments!
There’s a bit of a contest going on when it comes to which is the cheapest microcontroller, yet most of the really cheap ones have one big trade-off in that they have one-time programmable (OTP) memory, generally requiring the use of an (expensive) device emulator during development. This raises the question of what the cheapest reprogrammable MCU is, which [Jay Carlson] postulates is found in the Puya PY32 ARM Cortex-M0+ based series.
433 MHz radio signals are all around us. They’re used for things like smart power plugs, garage door openers, and home weather stations. Decoding these signals can allow you to interface and work with these devices on your own terms. To help in those efforts, [Joonas Pihlajamaa] has written a three-part tutorial on decoding these signals.
The focus of the tutorials is decoding the signals of a Nexa radio-controlled smart plug. [Joonas] first explores using an Arduino to do the job, paired with a RFM210LCF-433D radio receiver module. This setup dumps out data to a computer over serial for decoding. [Joonas] then tried an alternative strategy, using a soundcard as a “poor man’s oscilloscope” to do the same job, using the same radio module and using Audacity for signal analysis. Finally, [Joonas] brought out the big guns, hooking up a Picoscope digital oscilloscope to a Raspberry Pi 4 for a more deluxe attempt at decoding the signals.
The tutorial goes to show that higher-end tools can make such a job much easier. However, the cheaper techniques are a great way of showing what can be done with the bare minimum in tools. We’re hoping for an exciting fourth part to [Joonas’s] work, where he instructs us on how to decode 433 MHz signals by drinking huge amounts of caffeine and staring at a very fast blinking LED. If you’ve got your own nifty signal analysis (or SIGINT!) hacks, be a good sport and drop them into the tipsline!
The MouSTer is a device that enables modern USB HID mice to be used on various retro computers. The project has been through its ups and downs over years, but [drygol] is here to say one thing: rumors of the MouSTers demise have been greatly exaggerated. Now, the project is back and better than ever!
The team has been hard at work on quashing bugs and bringing new features to bear. The headline is that the MouSTer project will now offer mouse wheel support for Amiga users. This is quite the coup, as mouse wheels were incredibly obscure until the late 90s. Now, users of Commodore’s finest machines will be able to scroll with abandon with modern HID mice.
While the progress is grand, much is still left to be done. Despite the name, the MouSTer was never intended to solely serve Atari users. Future goals involve adding support for ADB mice for retro Macs, DB9 mouse support for even-older Apple machines, and DB9 mouse support for older PCs. The team is eager for there to be one MouSTer to rule them all, so to speak, and hopes to make the ultimate retro computer mouse adapter to serve as many purposes as possible.
We first looked at the MouSTer back in 2020, and it’s great to see how far it’s come.
Too busy playing video games to have a social life? No worries. In 1985, Nintendo introduced R.O.B. — otherwise known as the Robotic Operating Buddy. It was made to play Nintendo with you. In Japan, apparently, it was the Family Computer Robot. We suppose ROB isn’t a very Japanese name. The robot was in response to the video game market crash of 1983 and was meant to keep the new Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from being classified as a video game, which would have been a death sentence at the time of its release.
Since you might not have heard of R.O.B., you can probably guess it didn’t work out very well. In fact, the whole thing tanked in two years and resulted in only two games.
The first lesson a new parent learns is that the second you think you’ve finally figured out your kid’s patterns — sleeping, eating, pooping, crying endlessly in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, whatever — the kid will change it. It’s the Uncertainty Principle of kids — the mere act of observing the pattern changes it, and you’re back at square one.
This lets him look for how much the baby’s eyes are open, calculate with a wakefulness probability, and record the time he wakes up. This worked great right up until the wave function collapsed the baby suddenly started sleeping on his side, requiring the addition of a general motion detection function to compensate for the missing eyeball data. Check out the video below for more details, although the less said about the screaming, demon-possessed owl, the better.
The data [Caleb] has collected has helped him and his wife understand the little fellow’s sleep needs and fine-tune his cycles. There’s a web app, of course, and a really nice graphical representation of total time asleep and awake. No word on naps not taken in view of the camera, though — naps in the car are an absolute godsend for many parents. We suppose that could be curated manually, but wouldn’t doubt it if [Caleb] had a plan to cover that too.